In general, duplicate content is bad for SEO and can hurt your ranking with Google.
But where do you draw the line between duplicate and unique content? Although no one knows the internal working of Google’s algorithms, there is a pretty good understanding of the rules set in place for duplicate content.
Today we’re going to draw the line between what defines duplicate and unique content.
In this article, we’ll explore the following questions:
- Is it okay to copy and paste factory descriptions?
- Can I copy and paste text I find on other websites onto my website?
- Is it okay to use the same general description for all my products?
- For copied text, is there a percentage of words that must be changed in order to be recognized as fresh content?
- If you rearrange the sentences of copied text, is it still duplicate content?
- When is duplicate content okay in the eyes of Google?
Why Duplicate Content is Bad for SEO
When you use duplicate content, Google sees this as spam and they will be less likely to recommend your site in search results. In most cases, duplicate content can result in a drop in ranking.
With this being said there is a minor exception to this rule, so make sure to read this article in its entirety to figure out when it’s okay and when it’s not okay to use duplicate data.
DON’T copy and paste factory descriptions for products
The problem with copying and pasting factory descriptions is that Google knows you’re doing this and it can hurt your ranking. Think about it this way, there are thousands of other websites out there also using these same exact descriptions so you aren’t standing out.
The whole point of ranking is to fight for attention on the internet… to show Google that you are indeed the best expert in your niche or industry, and to convince them to show you on the first page of search results for a related term. Never copy and paste factory descriptions. Always take the extra time to write your own description.
DON’T copy and paste text from other people’s websites
Besides this being a copyright issue, copying and pasting text from other people’s website is a really bad practice and can hurt your SEO ranking. Don't think that Google (a mega robot that controls 85% of search queries doesn’t know about this trick, because they totally do).
If you like a description your competitor uses, try to restate what they said in your own words. The bottom line is if you copy text and rearrange the sentences in a new order, it’s still duplicate content. There isn’t an official rule that states what percentage of words must be changed in order to be recognized as fresh content.
Never copy and paste meta descriptions of your competitors website. It’s okay to get some inspiration (i.e. ideas for keywords to target) from your competitors, but you never want to straight out take their descriptions word for word.
DON’T copy and paste the same general product description for many products
Let’s suppose Amy has an online store selling wooden sunglasses. She sells a couple dozen types of sunglasses in different colors for men and women. Amy has a hard time writing a unique product descriptions so she created a general description that she copied and pasted into all of her products.
Amy wrote the following re-usable description: “These wooden sunglasses will rock your socks off! Made from 100% eco-recycled wooden materials from the forests of Indonesia, we make all of our sunglasses using fair-trade practices to ensure the highest quality and optimal performance for UV-protection. We promise you’ll love the way our sunglasses look on you.”
Now in this above example, this product description is a good start but it falls short because it’s being repeated on every product page. You’re doing yourself a disservice because Google will have no idea why Product A is different from Product B. Clearly, "Red Glitter Wooden Sunglasses” is very different than “Men’s Blue Wooden Sunglasses.”
By writing unique product descriptions, this is your opportunity to tell Google exactly how each product is unique. Remember Google doesn’t have eyes to see your beautiful product images, so they rely on your text to understand exactly what you’re selling. If they don’t understand your product page, they won’t recommend it in search results.
DO write unique content for each and every page on your website
A big-hitter site such as Tesla is going to focus on creating high quality unique content for all of their products, and so should you.
In the end, it all comes down to ranking. The end goal with ranking is to create unique high quality content, the more the better.
Another rule of thumb is to create this content frequently and update it often. Google likes to see that you are constantly active on your website making sure everything is up-to-date, accurate and fully optimized.
DO include information about your company, sizing & quality assurance
Small amounts of duplicate content can be okay. Yup you heard right.
There is an exception to this rule.
A small amount of duplicate content is totally fine on your product pages if it helps close the deal with your customers. Remember that the content on your site is not only for search engines, but for real people, so you’ll want to make sure your product page is optimized to sell.
An example of this is if you state a sizing chart, return policy, and shipping rates repeatedly on every product (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing). After all this extra information is helpful for converting your shopper into a paid customer…and conversions matter!
It’s all a numbers game in the end. If that extra information is the deciding factor in your customer’s decision to click the “Add to Cart” button, then this extra duplicate content should stay put.
Google is smart enough to understand that there is going to be a certain amount of text on your product page that pertains to your company (in general such has shipping calculations etc) and they aren’t going to lower your ranking for this.
DO not worry about blog previews having duplicate content
There is no need to worry about copying & pasting the exact beginning of your blog articles into the excerpts that appears on the blog overview page.
This is standard practice and is not considered duplicate content. Pasting the beginning of your blog article to create a preview of the article is totally fine. Google is smart enough to know that your excerpt is coming from your article and they shouldn’t penalize you for it. There is no need to create unique text in this instance because it’s unnecessary.
Protect your Unique Content
We understand that you worked very hard to create unique content for your online store and you don’t want competitors to copy your content.
[caption id="attachment_6425" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Instantly protects all Images & Text on your Shopify store[/caption]
Right Click Defender helps protect your images and text on your entire website with one click. There is no set up or coding knowledge necessary. After a 1-click installation, our app will automatically shield your entire website from right click actions such as “save,” “copy,” and “download.”
If you’d like to protect your unique content today, we recommend checking out this app which can guard your site 24/7.
I hope this article has given you a better idea of when it’s a good idea to use duplicate content, and when it’s not a good SEO practice. In general, you want to make sure that your product pages, blog articles, and collections all have engaging content that keeps your customers interested.
You also want to make sure that all the text on your site is 100% owned by you (and wasn’t taken from anywhere else on the internet.)
You also want to make sure that even if you are writing your own unique product descriptions, you aren’t repeating yourself on many webpages. Google keeps track of the text on every site and they can easily identify when a website is using duplicate content (either from a 3rd party outside of their site) or within their own website (repeating content over and over again).
Now that we've discussed what is bad for SEO, we recommend reading this article about good SEO practices entitled How to Rank #1 on Google Search Results.
Thanks so much for reading this article! Feel free to get in touch should you have any further questions about this topic.